While the sin of racism is an age-old phenomenon based on ignorance, fear, estrangement, and false pride, some of its ugliest manifestations have taken place in our time. Racism and irrational prejudices operate in a vicious circle. Racism is among the worst of ingrained prejudices that characterize sinful human beings. Its consequences are generally more devastating because racism easily becomes permanently institutionalized and legalized and in its extreme manifestations can lead to systematic persecution and even genocide.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church deplores all forms of racism, including the political policy of apartheid with its enforced segregation and legalized discrimination.
Seventh-day Adventists want to be faithful to the reconciling ministry assigned to the Christian church. As a worldwide community of faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church wishes to witness to and exhibit in her own ranks the unity and love that transcend racial differences and overcome past alienation between races.
Scripture plainly teaches that every person was created in the image of God, who "made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). Racial discrimination is an offense against our fellow human beings, who were created in God's image. In Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek" (Gal. 3:28). Therefore, racism is really a heresy and in essence a form of idolatry, for it limits the fatherhood of God by denying the brotherhood of all mankind and by exalting the superiority of one's own race.
The standard for Seventh-day Adventist Christians is acknowledged in the church's Bible-based Fundamental Belief No. 13, "Unity in the Body of Christ." Here it is pointed out: "In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation."
Any other approach destroys the heart of the Christian gospel.
Racism contradicts and offends the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Diversity is a blessing. Racism is a problem of the heart and an evil that must be eradicated from the institutional structures that shape our daily lives, including our houses of worship.
Racism is learned behavior that is rooted in ignorance and fear; fomenting conflict and violence socially. Commitment to the core values of our faith traditions provides the means for eradicating racism through education and spiritual transformation on a personal and institutional level.
The uniqueness, dignity and worth of every person derives from creation. Each individual is equally precious, illuminating life. To diminish that flame by denigrating, disrespecting, or oppressing people based on the color of their skin or their ethnicity or their culture is to dishonor the sacred in the world, in one's self, and in others.
People of faith must not allow racism to persist. Given the pervasive negative consequences of a racist society, a failure to be actively anti-racist prevents the ultimate realization of faith. W e will condemn racism with the spirit and substance of our words, challenge racism through our influence and actions, and collaborate to lead our faith communities into a transformed society where individual, cultural and institutional racism is not permitted.
As faith leaders guided by Holy Scripture . . .
We pledge to examine our own biases and positions of privilege through self-reflection and earnestly work to resolve them.
We pledge to model the repentance that turns us away from racism and leads us to work toward reconciliation that paves the path to cooperation.
We pledge to live by compassion and be consciously inclusive of all individuals.
We pledge to affirm the value of diversity and instill respect for dignity.
We pledge to promote understanding, inclusion and mutual respect and thus build community across the divides of race, ethnicity and culture.
We pledge to transform our institutions into authentically anti-racist and anti-oppressive communities of action.
We pledge to advocate for justice, demand equal opportunity for all, and create a beloved community of faith for everyone to share.
Prepared by the National Council for Community and Justice and adapted by the North American Division of SDA.